Carl Jung recounted the following story, told to him by Richard Wilhelm, who lived in China for many years:
There was a great drought where Wilhelm lived; for months there had not been a drop of rain and the situation became catastrophic. The Catholics made processions, the Protestants made prayers, and the Chinese burned joss-sticks and shot off guns to frighten away the demons of the drought, but with no result.
Finally the Chinese said, 'We will fetch the rain-maker.' And from another province a dried up old man appeared. The only thing he asked for was a quiet little house somewhere, and there he locked himself in for three days. On the fourth day the clouds gathered and there was a great snow-storm at the time of the year when no snow was expected, an unusual amount, and the town was so full of rumours about the wonderful rain-maker that Wilhelm went to ask the man how he did it.
In true European fashion he said: 'They call you the rain-maker; will you tell me how you made the snow?' And the little Chinese said: 'I did not make the snow; I am not responsible.' 'But what have you done these three days?' 'Oh, I can explain that. I come from another country where things are in order. Here they are out of order; they are not as they should be by the ordinance of heaven. Therefore the whole country is not in Tao, and I also am not in the natural order of things because I am in a disordered country. So I had to wait three days until I was back in Tao and then naturally the rain came.'”
This same concept appears in the writings of Lao Tzu from over 2000 years ago:
Remain quiet. Discover the harmony in your own being. Embrace it. If you can do this, you will gain everything, and the world will become healthy again. If you can't, you will be lost in the shadows forever. 1
Lao Tzu lists various holistic practices of the ancient masters for attaining the Tao. Some are quite intriguing and mysterious, such as “Lyou Yen and Chin Men, the mystical sciences of energy linkage for the purpose of influencing external affairs.”
Another is particularly recommended for beginners, namely, the study of the I Ching, which “enables the student to perceive the hidden influences in every situation and establish a balanced and spiritually evolved means of responding to them.” Of Lao Tzu's list of practices for aligning with the Tao,23 the practice most relevant to this website is the “science of refining one's personal energy through alchemy, chemistry and the cultivation of balanced sexual energy.” More on that in a moment. All these practices, says Lao Tzu,
are instruments for attaining the Tao. To study them is to serve universal unity, harmony and wisdom.4
Could it be that by learning to balance our sexual energy we could, like the rain-maker in Wilhelm's story, help pull the world into balance? For those who would like to experiment, here are some more clues from Lao Tzu's secret oral teachings, as later codified in the Hua Hu Ching:
Because higher and higher unions of yin and yang are necessary for the conception of higher life, some students may be instructed in the art of dual cultivation, in which yin and yang are directly integrated in the tai chi of sexual intercourse. If the student is not genuinely virtuous and the instruction not that of a true master, dual cultivation can have a destructive effect. If genuine virtue and true mastery come together, however, the practice can bring about a profound balancing of the student's gross and subtle energies. The result of this is improved health, harmonized emotions, the cessation of desires and impulses, and, at the highest level, the transcendent integration of the entire energy body. 5
Having already experienced some of those benefits from the art of dual cultivation, I always read that section with the anticipation of a child awaiting the sequel of a much loved book or movie. Lao Tzu is fairly explicit that controlled intercourse is a key component of the “tai chi of sexual intercourse,” while conventional sex is unwise. For example,
A person's approach to sexuality is a sign of his level of evolution. Unevolved persons practice ordinary sexual intercourse. Placing all emphasis upon the sexual organs, they neglect the body's other organs and systems. Whatever physical energy is accumulated is summarily discharged, and the subtle energies are similarly dissipated and disordered. It is a great backward leap.
For those who aspire to the higher realms of living, there is angelic dual cultivation. Because every portion of the body, mind, and spirit yearns for the integration of yin and yang, angelic intercourse is led by the spirit rather than the sexual organs. Where ordinary intercourse is effortful, angelic cultivation is calm, relaxed, quiet, and natural. Where ordinary intercourse unites sex organs with sex organs, angelic cultivation unites spirit with spirit, mind with mind, and every cell of one body with every cell of the other body.
Culminating not in dissolution but in integration, it is an opportunity for a man and woman to mutually transform and uplift each other into the realm of bliss and wholeness. The sacred ways of angelic intercourse are taught only by one who has himself achieved total energy integration, and taught only to students who follow the Integral Way with profound devotion, seeking to purify and pacify the entire world along with their own being. However, if your virtue is especially radiant, it can be possible to open a pathway to the subtle realm and receive these celestial teachings directly from the immortals. 6
How radiant is your virtue?
The possibility of celestial teachings is a powerful carrot, but there's also the stick of remaining in a rut. Could it be that the planet's current casualness toward sex is helping to create our reliance on non-renewable energy? Our many addictions? Our short-term financial thinking? Our general discouragement and belief that we are trapped in our circumstances? Lao Tzu might advise that we begin our efforts right in the bedroom.
The cords of passion and desire weave a binding net around you. Worldly confrontation makes you stiff and inflexible. The trap of duality is tenacious. Bound, rigid, and trapped, you cannot experience liberation. Through dual cultivation it is possible to unravel the net, soften the rigidity, dismantle the trap. Dissolving your yin energy into the source of universal life, attracting the yang energy from that same source, you leave behind individuality and your life becomes pure nature. Free of ego, living naturally, working virtuously, you become filled with inexhaustible vitality and are liberated forever from the cycle of death and rebirth. Understand this if nothing else: spiritual freedom and oneness with the Tao are not randomly bestowed gifts, but the rewards of conscious self-transformation and self-evolution. 7
Those who wish to enter Yu Ching [the exquisite energy dance of the immortal divine beings] should follow the Integral Way. Simplify the personality, refine the sexual energy upward, integrate yin and yang in body, mind, and spirit, practice non-impulsiveness, make your conscience one with pure law, and you will uncover truth after truth and enter the exquisite upper realm. This path is clearly defined and quite simple to follow, yet most lose themselves in ideological fogs of their own making.8
Here are two other passages that hint at the benefits from choosing our actions based on something other than our primitive desires, and overcoming separation (including the alienation between the sexes):
The ego is a monkey catapulting through the jungle: Totally fascinated by the realm of the senses, it swings from one desire to the next, one conflict to the next, one self-centered idea to the next. If you threaten it, it actually fears for its life. Let this monkey go. Let the senses go. Let desires go. Let conflicts go. Let ideas go. Let the fiction of life and death go. Just remain in the center, watching. And then forget that you are there. 9
Those who wish to embody the Tao should embrace all things. To embrace all things means first that one holds no anger or resistance toward any idea or thing, living or dead, formed or formless. Acceptance is the very essence of the Tao. To embrace all things means also that one rids oneself of any concept of separation; male and female, self and other, life and death. Division is contrary to the nature of the Tao. Foregoing antagonism and separation, one enters in the harmonious oneness of all things. 10
Lao Tzu would say that the rain-maker mentioned at the beginning of this article accomplished something entirely within the realm of natural law. What might be possible if we bring ourselves into accord with the Tao?
Those in future generations who study and practice the truth of these teachings will be blessed. They will acquire the subtle light of wisdom, the mighty sword of clarity that cuts through all obstruction, and the mystical pearl of understanding that envelops the entire universe. They will attain the insight necessary to perceive the integral truth of the Tao. Following this truth with unabashed sincerity, they will become it: whole, courageous, indestructible, unnameable.11
From pp. 419-20 "Mysterium Coniunctionis: an Inquiry into the Separation and Synthesis of Psychic Opposites in Alchemy"- vol 14 Bollingen Series XX : The Collected Works of C. G. Jung, 2d edition, trans by R.F.C. Hull, Princeton University Press 1976
- 1. Hua Hu Ching, trans. Brian Walker, HarperSanFrancisco: 1992, Section 38, p. 45.
- 3. Hua Hu Ching, Section 55, p. 68.
- 4. Hua Hu Ching, Section 55, pp. 68,70.
- 5. Hua Hu Ching, Section 67, p. 85.
- 6. Hua Hu Ching, Section 69, pp. 88-9.
- 7. Hua Hu Ching, Section 70, p. 90.
- 8. Hua Hu Ching, Section 63, p. 80.
- 9. Hua Hu Ching, Section 10, p. 13.
- 10. Hua Hu Ching, Section 3, p. 5.
- 11. Hua Hu Ching, Section 79, p. 103.